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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Religion entwined in American politics

 Chuck Morse Speaks: 
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It occurs to this author that the US government promotes, and has always promoted and encouraged, the American public to believe in God. Not only believe in God, the US government, as a means of fostering that belief, regularly engages in public rituals, non-denominational rituals, that involve prayer to God. We as Americans have been praying to God, together and publicly as a people, from the founding of the Republic until this very day. The God to which we pray, furthermore, is and has always been based upon the Christian conception of God in the generic sense. Additionally, we as Americans continue to look to the judeo-Christian moral code for values and guidance this also is, and has always been, a matter of American public policy.

One example, one out of many that could be sited, will suffice to illustrate my point. Recently President Barack Obama, acting in his capacity as the elected head of the US government, spoke to the nation in a televised address which was made available to all Americans who cared to listen. President Obama concluded his address with the following statement: “May God bless the United States of America.” The Commander in Chief was praying to God. He was beseeching God to bless America. Many, if not most listeners to the President’s remarks, myself included, perhaps openly or perhaps silently or even unconsciously, concurred with the Presidents prayer by also beseeching God to bless our country. Most Americans responded to the President’s prayer with a version of “Amen.”

Every American President from Washington to Obama, and most of our State Governors and elected officials, pray to God and seek his guidance upon taking office. In a secular-religious ritual that has been acted out every year since the founding of the nation, newly elected officials will pray: “so help me God” when they “solemnly swear” to conduct the functions of the office they are about to assume. We as a people pledge allegiance to the flag, our national symbol, and to one nation “under God.” Our coinage states “In God we Trust.”

Implied in these national acts of worship, originally and presently, is the understanding that no American should ever be coerced in any way into believing in or worshiping God. Americans have been and remain free to not participate in these rituals and many choose not to. This had always been the case and was not a problem until it was turned into one by those who seek to ban belief in God, and public worship, from public life. They claim that belief in God, and public acts of worship, somehow infringe on their right to not believe. Their claim is false. Americans are free to believe or not believe in anything they choose to believe or not believe in.

My sense is that those who seek to ban worship of God from the public square have embraced an ideology that views God, and belief in God, as a competing factor standing in the way of their agenda. Many of the same people who seek to ban worship also rail against corporate interests and profit, and for the same reason. They seek, perhaps unconsciously and maybe unwittingly, to replace private ownership with ownership and control by what they hope will be a benevolent state. They perhaps sense that a God believing public would be less likely to look to their leadership which they believe is enlightened. They take an elastic view of the moral code that has fostered our freedom and that has served as a counterweight and balance to our libertarian tendencies. They realize that a nation that believes in God, and that regularly seeks his blessing, will more likely be a nation made up of self sufficient individuals who can think for themselves.

Americans should remember, in the words of President Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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